Podcasts I'm Listening To: You Must Remember This
Since March, I have walked five miles a day, six days out of the week. That’s a lot of walking. During these daily two-hour hikes, I have listened to a lot of podcasts. Hands down the best podcast listening I’ve done, though, is digging my way through the complete catalog of episodes for YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS, Karina Longworth’s fantastic exploration into the world of cinema.
If you haven’t listened to YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS, Longworth, a former film critic, does deep-dive explorations into the life and times of some of cinema’s biggest stars and filmmakers. I’ve especially enjoyed her seasons dedicated to Charles Manson and his intersection with Hollywood during the ‘60s, the dueling careers of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, and her series dedicated to the famous blondes of classic Hollywood. Longworth’s most recent season, though, might just be her best.
"Polly Platt: The Invisible Woman" is a ten-part series dedicated to the life and career of Polly Platt, a woman who I was not overly familiar with before Longworth’s podcast. Platt began her film career in collaboration with her then-husband Peter Bogdanovich, working with him on the Roger Corman-produced TARGETS and Bogdanovich's breakout success THE LAST PICTURE SHOW. While Platt's official credit was as production designer, Longworth’s podcast shines a light on the true extent of her influence. In addition to her duties as Production Designer, Platt acted as an unofficial producer on Bogdanovich’s film, helping develop the story, influencing the casting, and overseeing many elements of the film’s production and post-production. It was during the making of THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, though, that Bogdanovich began an affair with the film’s star Cybill Shepherd. This affair would lead to the end of Platt and Bogdanovich’s marriage but the two would continue to work together on two more films before Platt would go on to an amazing career collaborating with filmmakers like James L. Brooks, Cameron Crowe, George Millar, and Wes Anderson.
What I love about Longworth’s podcast, besides being an invaluable education on film, is her desire to shine the light on the overlooked and underappreciated roles people have had in Hollywood's biggest and most beloved films. I’m not a fan of the auteur theory of filmmaking. Making a movie takes many people all working in collaboration with one another to bring a vision to life. While a director is the one expressing that vision and leading the team in the pursuit of it, they are so rarely the ones making every decision on set and even more rarely making those decisions in isolation. While there are some kinds of artistic expression that can indeed but done in isolation but collaboration is an important element in the creation of film as an art form. The hundreds of people who toil behind the scenes of your favorite movies can be just as important as the credited director to the final product.
I have been guilty myself of worshiping the same dozen or so (mostly/exclusively) male filmmakers that all "film bros" my age grew up idolizing. They are great directors, to be sure, but I want to move beyond that blind allegiance to the "film bro" canon and learn more about the other artists who helped, in their own way, make my favorite movies. Longworth’s exploration into the sad, complicated, but incredibly impactful life of Polly Platt has just reaffirmed to me how important it is to pay attention to the entire credit scrawl in every movie, to dig deep into the full story behind as many of the cast and crew as I can.
Thank you, Karina Longworth, for an amazing podcast. Thank you for helping me learn about the life of Polly Platt in an entertaining way that made a two-hour walk seem too short. But thank you, most of all, for reminding me that behind every great movie are hundreds of fascinating stories about the women and men who helped make these movies happen. I can't wait to keep learning more.